ADB okays $2.75B loan for PNR

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A rendering of the Malolos-Clark railway. (JICA)

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is extending its biggest infrastructure loan of $2.75 billion to the Philippine National Railway (PNR) for the construction of the 147-kilometer railway connecting Clark in Pampanga, Metro Manila, and Calamba in Laguna.

The loan will finance the PNR Clark Phase 2, a 53 kilometer-rail line under the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) that will connect Malolos, Bulacan to Clark, Pampanga, and the PNR Calamba, a 56-kilometer railway linking Manila with Calamba, Laguna.

In a press briefing held Thursday, 23 May 2019, the ADB disclosed that the approved loan covers the civil works of PNR Clark Phase 2 and the first segment of PNR Calamba (Solis to Blumetritt in Manila), including its stations, bridges, viaducts for the elevated railway alignment, and a tunnel leading to the underground station at Clark International Airport. With this development, the PNR Clark Phase 2 will feature the first airport express railway service in the country.

Department of Transportation (DoTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade thanked the ADB for its support for the project, as this will expedite the construction of the massive railway system that will seamlessly integrate three regions.

“The milestone we have reached today is a huge help for us to roll up our sleeves and start the actual construction at the soonest possible time. ADB is and will always be a strong partner in the development projects of the government that aim to give a comfortable life to Filipinos. We are grateful that the ADB shares our vision of enhancing mobility and connectivity in the country,” Tugade said.

For his part, ADB Philippines Country Director Kelly Bird cited the collective effort of the DoTr, Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), Department of Finance (DoF), and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as their co-financing partner.

“It’s been a remarkable effort by the DoTr and its officials to make the preparations on time. This is quite an historic day for us. From a development perspective, we are pleased that this investment is taking place in ADB’s host country,” Bird said.

PNR Clark Phase 2 will have six train stations, namely, Calumpit, Apalit, San Fernando, Angeles, Clark, and Clark Airport. The rail stations will include multimodal facilities that will allow seamless transfer of commuters from public utility vehicles to trains.

The Malolos-Clark leg is targeted for partial operations by 2022. It aims to serve 350,000 passengers daily in its opening year, and 1 million passengers per day at full capacity in 2025.

Once PNR Clark Phase 2 is completed, travel time from Makati City to Clark, Pampanga will be reduced to 55 minutes from currently 3 hours.

The project is also expected to generate potential construction jobs of up to 20,000.

Also present in the press briefing were BCDA President and CEO Vince Dizon, DoF Assistant Secretary Tony Lambino, DoTr Assistant Secretary for Communications and Commuter Affairs Goddes Hope Libiran, and ADB Philippines Principal Transport Specialist for Southeast Asia Markus Roesner.

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